Bill B. posted this photo and asked, "What do you think?"
That triggered quite an interesting discussion as follows:
on Facebook group "Yeah... I Lived in Okinawa"
Michael N: It's Great Bill B.
Kim L: Do this in Tokyo and it'll stop.
Bill W: Unfortunately, this is a political sign probably bank rolled by the same folks who wanted reversion so they could get their hands on the Japan version of Hawaii. Futenma will make a fine million dollar golf corse and recreation area for one the mainland banks.
Steve S: Bull S#it. But, wanting the land back.
Bill W: Obviously you do not know much about the history of the Okinawan peoples and the Japan islands banks.
Kim L: Uhmm. Well I think Steve knows quite a bit about the people as his Father led the Central Baptist Church there for many a year. I am not here to speak for him, but I do think simply stated if you negate him you gotta choose a different reason. Bill for what it is worth I think that the Okinawans deserve to have control of their land. While there are mixed feelings given the desperation of jobs - to be dismissive of independence feels wrong. Steve and I have not conferred. As best I know, most of the land we occupy actually has claims against it as the land was taken decades ago as war booty by the US government who was not so interested in the cries of an enemy people - they wanted to control, create a safe space - and looked at maintaining force projection in Japan and the Pacific theater of operations. If this was mainland Japan - this would've never happened this way, as Japan would've fought hard against against this presence by whatever means necessary. 10,000 horny GI's chasing daughters and wives is not divine, and you wouldn't want this either - let alone folks who are from out of state. A small joke from a Clint Eastwood movie. I do agree that mainland Japan is not sensitive to the needs of the locals - driven by government costs and business interests. In fact, this is the problem - Japan's costs are small because they pay minor amounts and are not full partners in 2013 in their own defense - as well as that of the area.There is a logic to following the money but I think it is not our role to take a stance supporting status quo over land we do not own. I also question the military doctrine that assumes the physical presence of old fashioned ground troops on a tiny square of land 400 miles and a 10 minute missile ride away from China is prudent. They can easily overwhelm anti missile technology with 5000 missiles. What war planner is really articulating what we are doing? This is politics. We are trapped in some ludicrous notion of WWII tactics and weaponry as we have not figured out how to do anything else... yet. Japan is the culprit, our government does what is in it's own interest not balanced on the desires of locals.
Lane P: Our country is much the same these days. I can relate to your frustration.
Steve S: Nice overview Kim. Bill, I wasn't speaking to you at all. I was referring to the sign. Kim's correct. I believe we have had a Washington-Tokyo deal for years. MCAS Futenma was my childhood playground.
Kenny A: Well said Kim!!
Scott M: The biggest part for Okinawan's I believe is leverage. Without this leverage Okinawa would not be as developed as it is today. For the Okinawan's they always need to have a relevant issue, to keep Okinawan in the spot light with main land Japanese. Even with the 9.0 Earth Quake, the devastating Tsunami, and the nuclear meltdown, Okinawan's still managed to get a large piece of the Japanese budget, which I find amazing.
Darrell F M: Very sad turn of events over the past decades either way you look at it. I look on Okinawa as the Home I never claimed as I moved every couple of years growing up in a military family, and as a Marine myself. Okinawa was, and still is a life time memory I choose to protect no matter what eventually happens between our two countries...
Kim L: HA! A hot button topic for me. I default into my talking points. The Okinawans really need to figure out what gets their government responsive to negotiate a meaningful military/political role for themselves and in partnership with others. Flashing signs at GI's is about the biggest time waster imaginable. They got no power to do anything as policy does not reside in anyone in Uniform when it scales to international relations. We will only respond to the Japanese government. I have to believe Okinawan leaders know this but must think getting the equivalent of Joe and Jenny Sixpack out on the streets with English signs somehow matters in Tokyo. Perhaps it does and there is a grand scheme but it doesn't seem to be working so far. And to think I don't even get paid to provide this.
Scott M: Kim the flashing of signs at GI's is not for the GI's but for the photo op, to get into the paper. It is about psychological war fare, and if you ask any person in the USA that has never been to Okinawa, they will mention the strife, so see they have succeeded. Do not underestimate the Okinawan's as they have been playing politics with the world powers for over 2000 years. Sagini the Okinawan who is played by Marlon Brando in his opening dialog of "The Tea House of the August Moon 1952" explains this quite well. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049830/
Kim L: Scott that is why I said they must think Tokyo cares. As to their savvy on this issue of occupation - they have been occupied for centuries so not sure your point. If you got a better plan then to do the same thing over and over again - which as you know is a definition of insanity - well you should articulate it as well. In the end I want the best for evreryone. This includes Scott.
Scott M: Kim, I do not see a solution in the near future. All three parties are making to much money off the deal that exists. USMC never planned to move all 9000 Marines to Guam, only the families and they were going to bring the Marines back to Okinawa on float so they could train on Ranges in Okinawa that do not exist in Guam. Neither country has done a cost analysis and they have moved the move back to 2015. Still nothing has been done. So watch the money and the building when that happens then a move might happen.
Kim L: Marines interestingly have announced another jungle training center in CONUS. The American public I think is not so aware of the Okinawan issues and in my opinion really don't care nor is it likely that a groundswell would occur. If anything I think they might appreciate some cost savings absorbed by Japan. If Japan rewrites the constitution to allow for a real military - at great cost - we won't have to cover for them - we can complement their power. What I also think drives this - is the doctrine that governs our presence in Asia given current realities. What war planner is articulating strategy and tactics by putting a few GI's next to China/others so that they are an easy kill box for China's missiles? It is a symbolic presence that has little military practicality in an instant destruction world. Very few people talk about genuine military necessity and the complexities that presents under current conditions. That is where the discussion should start. Japanese senior civilians and military members walk the hallways of power in DC and know everything. What we nor they have done is figured out how to - my opinion - act in this new world. So we do agree that nothing is going to happen right away but the larger issue is what we do or don't with our partners in Asia. While I think some basing in Guam makes sense - it will also be obliterated in a real shooting war within minutes.
Kim L: By the way some studies indicate land returned to civilians in Okinawa have generated more jobs/income for locals. OF course impact studies with a new Japanese military and a larger pro business investment by Japan may help. There are many facets here but I think the major one is the political/military need.
Scott M: I do think having US bases on Japanese soil is a great deterrent for China, North Korea, and even Russia as you are sending 5000 missiles but you are involving two countries as the Japanese who do not have a military and are peaceful now, with great technology could build one in short time, and the history between the Japanese and the Chinese, Russians goes back over 500 years. If you shoot those same missiles at Guam you only are starting a war with the USA. I was at Guam last year and not much has been done. On Okinawa the Biggest Hospital in the Pacific will open its doors this year, and ranges and facilities are being built at a rapid pace. This is why I decided to retire in Okinawa, and not in the USA. Within in hours you can deploy forces through out Asia, the top Brass at the Pentagon all state a new focus in Asia, so the Marines being pulled out of Afghanistan in before 2012 will come to Okinawa, so we will have more Marines not less than before.
Kim L: I think it symbolic and works at the margins. Enjoy the island Scott. I do think you could should refresh yourself on some of the war fighting tactics and capabilities. You may for whatever reason still conclude that the barriers are too high for them to act but I don't think this basing of a minor number of men and planes is going to stop a determined foe for more than a few minutes if there is real intent.
Kim L: I have half of my family in Okinawa Scott, born and lived there many years. The idea of suggesting Okinawa is a target and that we should evolve our doctrine is also important to me for those reasons. I have also served in Uniform and am aware to some reasonable extent how Congress and the Pentagon function via the roles and so forth. This does not make me the expert or as if I have "special" knowledge. I've enjoyed the repartee and while I don't agree with much you said- I have learned from you and appreciate your passion.
Scott M: Kim, I have a similar back ground I just retired out here in 2011, and I have over 14 years on island. I am married to an Okinawan, and of course I spend a lot of time with my in laws. I have spent my career from 1986 on studying Asia Pacific regions, with time in most of these countries. I now have family on island, and Okinawa is my home as I am non-SOFA. I have seen Catch 22 situation like the land owners on Torii Station who get paid three ways. 1st they get paid lease money, then they farm sugar cane, and 3rd they receive subsidies for the Sugar Cane. They are very happy until Torii wants to give their land back like when the HWY 58 bi-pass went through, as they became just simple land owners again. Many Okinawan's have made their wealth because they had land on base and received royalties. The ones that do not own land often hire main land college kids to protest, to leverage more money from Tokyo. I do see a revision in the SOFA soon, as the offences are to often and to severe, for the US Military and the Okinawan's to coincide.
Kim L: Complicated and appreciate you giving me more context and information! Do you have medical/base privileges. If not, I assume the list of challenges for you is extensive. No one in my family has a claim or lease. It remains among the poorest prefectures though some benefit in grand style. Few of the promises of Reversion were realized. The list of complexities is long and distrust is high. I suppose we can identify with some of that here too.
Michael N: I can't talk about stuff like this, my old agency friend are stll being active!
Scott M: As a a retired person, I can have full base access, and medical. Still there are other difficulties, but being non-SOFA I do not have have follow any base orders or curfews. I have my permanent resident card and my Japanese drivers license, and my wife is my sponsor. From my perspective there are those that have land on base and receive royalties that are well off, and the rest of the population who is struggling to make ends meet. For most Okinawan's they look to graduate from college and leave the island for the good jobs. Still the poverty that I see is not any more than you see any where in the USA.
Bill W: There is a sizeable military force on mainland Japan. And they have voiced opinion as to American ocupancy. It is a political situation and a balance of power in the Pacific. I would suspect that should we absent ourselves in the Pacific, the Chineese and N Korea woiuld be all ove the islands. So if you overlook the Japan bank influence and the communist agitators, then by gosh we should move our forces out of there and see if we can't tip Guam over as one of the idiots in congress pointed out.
Steve S: Bill, you're out of touch bro. Steve.
Ron T: First of all for the many many land owners I have spoken to they don't want the land back in all cases. They make more from rent than they could building on it and most don't own enought contiguous subu's to do much. Land on Okinawa wasnt' laid out neatly , you may own 10 subus here, 20 there so its not so simple to get enough to do much unless your real wealthy. On top of that we're there because its always been in Japan's best interest. They didn't have to protect themselves as we did it for them. Remember we don't pay the cost the Japanese gov't does in most cases. Futenma serves little logistics reason's for staying to much build up around it, and the grunts would most likely leave out of Kadena anyway since thats the may gateway base. Its a matter of politics and as I ve always said the Marines wanting to maintain the country club lifestyle they have on Okinawa. Even fully manned and deployed to Korea they would be barely a speed bump in a major conflict. Kadena will be there for a long time but Futenma, Machinato and Hansen should go. Deploy the Marines forward in Korea , Thailand etc they serve to purpose on Okinawa.
Michael D C: Regarding the Japanese military, I would venture to speculate the government of Japan would have their constitution modified within a year if we were to withdraw our forces from Japanese territory. Just as our presence in Korea keeps the south nation from kicking the crap out of the north nation, I think our shadow over the Rising Sun keeps the Japanese a peaceful people. Despite the decades since the last war, Japan hasn't modified its dislike for the Koreans or for China. I think that within a ten year period, Japan would become a power to be reckoned with if left to their own devices. Regarding Okinawa, under the rules of pre-modern warfare, we owned that island fair and square as a result of conquest. That we returned it to Japan was awfully magnanimous of the USA. Economically, look at the downfall of the P.I. once we left those islands. Their economy took a massive dive, so that now they let the Russians into our ports to bring in needed cash. I think if we left Okinawa, that island would most likely be forgotten by political Japan and their economic fortunes left to languish.
Bill B: The downfall in the PI was temporary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81ngeles
Allen D: I agree!
Scott M: Bill have you been to Clark AFB recently? It is used as a logistical hub, for our operations the southern Philippines, but it is not even 1% of its former glandor. After the Mt Pentaubo blew up there was nearly 3 feet of ash, and then the Philippino's (looted) and destoyed nearly all the infastructure. We started OEF-P in 2001, and started using both Clark, and Subic, but they are controlled by the Philippino's and we have some hanger space for pallets, and get some gas at jacked up rates. So the Philippino's did not win, nor did we win by pulling out. We are using the airfield more like an air America logistical hub.
Kim L: We need to have a policy and practice that reflects current SWOT [ed: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats]. Our military doctrine is confused in the Far East at best. Everything is negotiable with Japan but Japan must wish it. A 1945 and 1952 treaty is still relevant? I don't think so. If so then let us also re-parachute into Germany and enforce the original terms of surrender. I think they wish to have US presence - which is token and I think laughingly symbolic in this real world - only if they can concentrate them away from the Japan proper and for the most part keep them in Okinawa. If we are really afraid that Japan will be doing Banzai charges all over again we better start arresting the DIet and disarming JSDF now. We also have these guys running around the Pentagon and our senior service schools in great numbers. We place the moral equivalent of ground pounders with tactical troop carrying aircraft next to a million man Army with missiles that could fill the sky in 60 seconds? Where is the military doctrine and tactics there? Japan needs to be a full partner. We can't afford a confused doctrine and WWII tactics mindset.
Bill B: No, Scott M, I have not been to Clark for a long while. However, I know several Americans married to Filipinos, who own homes in the area, and visit quite often. They left the PI after the eruption as they worked for the US government. These few Americans I know paint a more positive image of Clark than do you.
Scott M: Bill it is hard to speculate, what it would have been with a US base staying there since 1990, versus us pulling out and letting the Filipinos do there own thing. We (USA) first started going back into Clark in 1999, and with 11 Sep 2001 we started building AFP [ed: Armed Forces of the Philippines] troop strength at Clark, and Ft Magsaysay standing up thier National Anti-Terror unit. The USA invested tons of money back in the area, and now we have had operations running continuely in the Southern Phlippines since 2002. So AC [ed: Angeles City] is doing better ecconomically, could it have been even better with a large base being there for over 23 years? I think it would be very different but again it is hard to speculate.
Kim L: I don't think our military doctrine should be about economic benefit to others. If we feel we need to bolster economies other than our own there are much better ways. We need actions that support current state and a holistic approach to the Far East with meaningful partner participation.
Scott M: US has solid doctrine...Just saying. We are building solid partners, but it takes time. This is what I used to do all across Asia for the last 20 years, but it takes time, money, equipment, and trained men.
Kim L: Scott are you a military planner? This thread mixes many areas so it is awkward at best. In "Sustaining Global Leadership in the 21st Century" the articulation is very loose. It does suggest we need to involve joint coalition and ally support wherever it is possible. We no longer are built to support a 2 theater war, the American people have little heart to act resolutely and alone, our partners provide only token support at best and one of the strongest economies in the world - still hides behind an ancient treaty that places most protection of the Far East under our flag. It is nonsensical.
Scott M: I would say I was more of a military executer, of the plans. The USA has helped Japan build its SOF, and other assets in recent years. They (Japan) are limited in thier capacity due to the Japanese Constitution. With the Chinese and Korean's encroaching on Japanese soil, and the US can not assist, Japan now has reason to revise the Constitution and build a full fledged military. However, there will be many in Japanese politics that will want to maintain the status quo. It has been Japan that has not changed thier Constitution, not the USA, as Germany changed thiers years ago, and they have a decent sized military.
Kim L: I agree.
Maurice D: I think Japan is beginning to see the light though. Recently there has been serious discussion about amending Article 9 so they can rebuild their military.
Lane P: We still flash signs thinking it will change things in the US. I hope the Okinawans didn't learn that tactic from us. It doesn't work.
Conrad P. L: F@c# em! We drive a large part of the economy. Propagandist rhetoric.
Kim L: Conrad are you in 6th or 7th grade?
Conrad P. L: 18 year years of school post doctorate degree thank you very much. Entitled to my opinion. How about you
Mick M: Excellent discussion! Scott, I have to disagree with one of your comments though. If you ask "anyone" in the US about Okinawa, the vast majority will give you a deer-in-the-headlights look. I'm ashamed to say that I believe that the average American doesn't have a clue regarding OUR OWN politics let alone that of Japan. Remember, Scott, we are graduating kids from high school, 50% of whom cannot even READ! Apparently, we also hand out post-doctoral sheep-skins to people who are unable to express themselves intelligently without resorting to profanity. But, alas, just another demonstration of our deteriorating society. Now, if you'll excuse me I think "Honey Boo-Boo" is coming on - or is that "19 and Counting?" You know... the stuff that REALLY matters.
Maurice D: I agree with you Kim, I get so tired of hearing the "we drive their economy" argument. Does the military presence help support the economy? Yes, but it is not why we are here. Our leadership could probably care less about that. And, since the political climate has largely changed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I think it is about time for a reduction of bases here. Indeed, we already see a lot of that happening with areas such as Camp Lester and Camp Kinser in the future.
Mary L: Mick you are 100% right. Most of the U.S. population doesn't even know where Okinawa is.
Conrad P. L: I do not in any way shape or form disrespect Okinawans! I not well versed of their political struggles. However, Americans have been had quite a presence there post WW II. From the standpoint of rebuilding the economy to the introduction of Democracy. By the way my best friend were from the Island. The world has changed over the course of the last 45 years. I remember the protests in the 70's. I respect the people and the culture and had the best time there. Should have given Japan the island? I was there when that occurred as well. I think island is perfect for strategic positioning, in respect with. North Korean recent military posturing. What do you think? Should we stay or make an exit and take a bow? I think not. I believe your seeing a minority displaying anger and resentment over our military presence there. If people feel that way, I choose the latter. Best cpaul
Maurice D: North Korea is almost like the boy who cried wolf. Still, because of position that Okinawa is in (geographically and politically) it does make sense that a US military presence remains here long term. I disagree with a 100% withdrawal of the military and doubt that will ever happen. Reduction and realignment is key.
Bill W: Ah the PC folks are at it again. If you think you know something, quickly drop a bucket on your head to block out any reason.
Mick M: Bill, which in your opinion are the "PC" comments in this thread? BTW, I love your reference to Hank Johnson's gaffe!! That was funnier than heck!!